When you approach Elsie’s Place for the first time, the non-descript, one-story beige building will convince you that the food is going to range from mediocre to acceptable. As you go up the couple of concrete steps into the dark-paneled bar, you will decide that this is going to be beer and burgers, with the emphasis on beer.
About all of this you will be wrong, because the food at Elsie’s Place, at the intersection of Route 208 and Route 300 in Wallkill, is excellent.
Yes, there are burgers and yes, there is beer, along with other expected favorites like wings and French fries and pizza, but all of those offerings are several cuts above the expected. And then there is the unexpected—like the mixed green salad with Granny Smith apples, walnuts and gorgonzola cheese tossed with an apple cider vinaigrette— crisp, fresh, plentiful and beautifully balanced.
On a recent Saturday night, four of us ordered an array of things to find the perfect “bite.” I’m not a fan of ribs in bar restaurants, and a word of warning—if you visit Elsie’s website, don’t be put off by the picture of the baby backs there. It’s everything that’s wrong with most ribs (steamed meat drowning in jelly-like barbecue sauce). I don’t know what that’s a picture of, but Elsie’s actual ribs are exceptional. Charred and crisp around the edges, still moist, tender and falling off the bone, with a gentle application of barbecue sauce that added some zing but wasn’t overpowering. Add the big wedge of terrific corn bread and we were very happy campers (½ Rack, 6-7 Ribs, $17; Full Rack, 12-13 Ribs, $29).
Owner/Chef Mirna Abada has owned and run Elsie’s Place for the past 10 years and named it in honor of its proximity to the Borden Farm. Elsie’s smokes their our own meats (in-house over apple wood), makes their pizza from scratch, and makes all their sauces in-house. Their burgers are also hand-made. “It’s a lot of work,” Mirna says, “but a labor of love.” It shows. (Be sure to check out the specials board too. Had I noticed it earlier, you might have been reading about pork schnitzel today.)
Elsie’s Place offers a fun and delicious night out. More so to those of us who know Jack Burke, the bar manager from the former Gold Fox in Gardiner; he’s the bartender at Elsie’s on Tuesdays and Saturdays. 1475 NY-208, Wallkill, NY 12589. 845 895-8975. Tuesday – Friday 11AM–11PM; Saturday 12PM–12AM; Sunday 12–10PM; Closed Monday.